Herbal Tea Feature | Cinnamon

Cinnamon, spice and everything nice!
With Autumn in full swing, I couldn’t resist but to delve into one of the most popular flavors of the season: Cinnamon!

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HISTORY
Native to Sri Lanka and India, Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) does not grow well in North America. It is popularly used in curries in the East and sweets in the West, generally put. Cinnamon is actually harvested bark from the Cinnamon tree! Sometimes used interchangeably with Cinnamomum cassia, which is a different variety found in China.

TASTE
Cinnamon has a warming, spicy taste. The aroma is extremely comforting, hot and woody. Most commonly associated in the Western World with Autumn flavors, served on pastries, drinks and breakfast items.

BENEFITS
~ Fights against sluggishness, promotes circulation
~ Antiseptic
~ Soothes digestive upsets (colic, diarrhea, flatulence, kidney problems)
~ Used as a uterine stimulant, good for menstruation (caution!!!: consult a doctor prior to use if pregnant)
~ Arthritis and Rheumatism
~ warming against chills
~ Natural fighter against E. Coli and other viruses

USES
Drink cinnamon tea for internal relief or massage with cinnamon essential oil on the abdomen to relieve lower digestion problems.

STEEPING TEA
Steep a high quality cinnamon tea on its own or pair it with ginger for menstrual relief, or cardamom, cloves and nutmeg for an Autumn sipping tea to relieve chills in the cold seasons. Also, a nice addition would be Rooibos or Orange peels. Try MoxTea’s Viking tea! The Cinnamon is a wonderful wake-me-up in this tea!

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Now that you know a little more about the healing benefits of cinnamon, not that anyone needs persuasion, indulge this fall season with all things Cinnamon!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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Sources:
Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: a Beginner’s Guide. Storey Publishing, 2012.

Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Zak, Victoria. 20,000 Secrets of Tea: the Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs. Bantam, 2000.

5 Herbs that Help Kick that Cold or Flu to the Curb

It’s the end of September and the cold is coming if it hasn’t arrived where you live yet (in the northern hemisphere, of course). Snow is already falling in the higher altitudes and with damp cold, comes the sniffles, the flu, runny noses etc. You know what I’m talking about.

I already got hit with a sore throat. My weapon of choice: Echinacea.

But there are so many other herbs that can help with coughs, flu, fevers, congestion and phlegmy respiratory tracts that I took the liberty to compile a quick list of common-ish herbs that can help you this season!

ECHINACEA

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Otherwise known as a purple coneflower, Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a powerhouse for helping cure a common cold. (I’ve actually wrote about my experience with echinacea in the beginning of the year when I got a cold on New Year’s Day. ) The root and aerials of this plant is mainly used in modern herbal medicine and is a great antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic and lymphatic tonic. One could also take Echinacea capsules, just double and triple check that it’s high quality and organic. However, the taste of the tea is quite nice, and I’d recommend that! Echinacea relieves a sore throat, cold and influenza among other uses.

HYSSOP

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A summer flowering plant, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is commonly known as a cleansing type of plant. It’s actually mentioned in the Bible over a dozen times. (“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7) Both the leaves and the flowers are used for cold remedies in syrups, teas, tinctures and essential oils. Hyssop is a natural expectorant, phlegm reducer, antiviral and promotes sweating among other benefits. Drink this tea hot at the onset of a cold/flu.

GINGER

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A wonderfully spicy herb, ginger (Zingiber officinalis) has been used for centuries in Asia to dispel chills among many other versatile uses (like a hangover for example). Ginger promotes circulation, sweating, is an expectorant, relieves nausea and vomiting, and is antiseptic. Either drink ginger tea made from the dried root or take a couple of slices and steep for 10 minutes in boiled water. Side note: if you don’t like the bite from a hot cup of ginger tea, try cold-brewing it instead and it goes down much smoother.

ELDER

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Described as a “complete medical chest,” these powerful flowers cure excessive phlegm and mucus. The elder flower (Sambucus nigra)is native to Europe and is actually surrounded by a wealth of folklore. The flowers are powerful in stimulating circulation, a great expectorant, promotes sweating and is anti-inflammatory.  Other parts of the plant, like the berries or bark, are used for other benefits but the flowers are mainly used for fevers, colds, coughs and flu. A hot cup of elderflower tea clears away the respiratory tract and an elder syrup is a great remedy for congestion. It pairs well with lemon and raspberry.

PEPPERMINT

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Who doesn’t love a cuppa peppermint tea whether one is sick or not! One of the most common herbal teas, Peppermint tea a cooling a soothing herb that treats fevers, congestions and even travel sickness. Much like ginger, peppermint prevents vomiting, nausea promotes sweating (but is internally cooling), and an analgesic. Another side benefit to peppermint is that it gives a gentle boost of alertness and is very uplifting. Read more about non-cold-related benefits of peppermint.
Bonus…if you’re brave:

GARLIC JUICE.

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It is great little warrior for infections but I don’t have the courage to brave this one yet!

I hope that as we enter the cold seasons, that you keep these brave little herbs in the back of your minds and tea cupboards for when the sniffles come on, you’re prepared to attack it head on!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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Herbal Tea Feature | Ginger

Can we create a judge-free bubble for a minute? I had a couple too many glasses of wine to drink the other night and I definitely had a hangover the next morning. Mind you, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually done that and I’m not too terribly experienced in hangover remedies. But when you need to get up and get going, you find a solution right?

Off I went to my tea cupboard to see if I had anything that said “hangover cure tea.” I knew that ginger soothed tummy aches and reduces nausea but I’ve never heard of ginger being a hangover cure tea. Common sense told me that it may work so off I go to boil up a kettle.

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I’m telling you, after I drank that spicy cuppa, I was able to get on my feet! Not in a I’m-still-dragging-my-feet way. I mean, in a bounce-in-my-step, skin-a-glowing, revitalizing way! Can anybody relate???

So I wanted to know more of the ways I could use ginger in everyday life and this is what I found:

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HISTORY

Not to be confused with “wild ginger” from North America, ginger is native to the tropical parts of Asia and a popular ingredient in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other asian cuisines. Ginger traveled with the Spaniards into the New World and now is extensively grown in the West Indies.

TASTE

pungent, spicy, warming, clean, juicy.

BENEFITS
increases blood flow and circulation
warming sensation, good for healing the body from colds
lowers cholesterol
prevents blood clotting
stops nausea, morning sickness
increases metabolism
stomach soother
eases sore throats, fights off cold and flu
improves and clears the respiratory system
antiseptic agent for digestive, urinary and respiratory systems
helps treat arthritis and joint pain

cures hangovers!

USES
the benefits of the ginger plant comes from the root in either its raw natural form, juice, or powder
drink ginger tea to ease motion sickness during travel, to reduce nausea or morning sickness during pregnancy, to relieve upset stomach discomfort, to soothe menstrual cramps

Try ginger cookies or candy!

STEEPING TEA
typically needs to be slightly sweetened with honey and/or lemon

tip: blend it with peppermint. heat and spice of the ginger is balanced by the cooling peppermint

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Now I’m finally coming around to drinking ginger tea for the fun of it, and not strictly in a medicinal way. Mind you, my sweet tooth has the best of me, so I sweeten my ginger tea with honey and lemon.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, just a tea aficionado. This blog is a compilation of the information I found as I researched this herb. Please check with a medical professional before use.

I hope you got a bit of a laugh and enjoyed this herbal feature on ginger!

Keep on steeping,
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Herbal Tea Feature | Chamomile

Unless you’re allergic, who doesn’t love Chamomile tea? It’s the quintessential comfort tea…perfect for a serious dose of R&R. Just the earthy, floral scent of chamomile already starts working on loosening those muscles and releasing tension.

Chamomile is one of the 9 sacred herbs of the Saxons; and it’s pretty safe to say that tea afficionado and amateur alike have enjoyed a cuppa comfort.

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This calming tea goes beyond just busting stress. It has many other uses and benefits that you may or may not know.

HISTORY

Called “ground apple” by the ancient Greeks, Chamomile has several varieties but only 2 are really used medicially: the Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). They possess the same benefits and uses and are harvested around the world.

TASTE

Chamomile tea is a naturally sweet tasting tea with a rich, warm floral taste, and notes of apples. If you do want to sweeten it, try it with a touch of honey or a slice or two of a crisp red apple!

Chamomile also pairs well with other herbs if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Common combinations are chamomile with lavender, rose petals or rose hips. More sassy blends include apples and peppermint!

BENEFITS
The range of its uses goes beyond just a calming tea. Chamomile has many other benefits:
  • soothes upset stomach and nausea
  • skin softener (great for a bath soak)
  • antibacterial uses for skin irritations
  • gentle muscle relaxer
  • beauty enhancer

USES
drinking tea for its healing properties
eye packs for depuffing and soothing (soak 2 tea bags in hot water and allow to come to body temperature. gently press them into eye lids and relax for 15-20 minutes)
bath soaks (2-3 tea bags or a handful of dried chamomile in a nylon stocking or extra large tea strainer)

a chamomile rinse can add natural highlights to blond hair


STEEPING TEAS
Using freshly boiled water, steep a tea bag in your favorite mug for about 5 minutes. The longer it steeps, the more bitter it becomes so play around with how strong you like the bitters.

If using loose dried chamomile flowers, use one generous teaspoon of chamomile per cup of tea.

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Suffice it to say that Chamomile is a general crowd pleaser with many uses and benefits. Steep a simple tea bag or get creative with the loose chamomile and blend it with other herbs! Tea is an art made to smell, taste and enjoy just the way you like it!
Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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Herbal Tea Feature | Fennel Seed Tea

Fennel tea doesn’t seem like the common kind of teas we get at a tea room, or Starbucks. But if you get your hands on this puppy, you’ll be in for a surprise!

I grew up on Fennel tea in Brazil (it’s called Erva Doce in Portuguese…literally, sweet herb) and it’s absolutely delicious. It’s very calming like chamomile, has a lot of digestive benefits like peppermint and it’s so naturally sweet, you don’t need to add anything to it.

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Fennel is a bulb vegetable that belongs to the carrot family. It grow feathery dill-like leaves and yellowish umbrella-shaped little flowers. the seeds look like teeny tiny, thin, ribbed pistachios. That’s the best I can think of!

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Warning: If you’re allergic to carrots or celery, don’t drink this tea. Proceed at your own discretion.

We’re about the get a little technical here, so if you’re looking for an overview, skip down below. But if I’ve intrigued your inner chemistry nerd, then let’s go:

Anethole is a compound essential oil found in Anise and Fennel (it’s also one of the main ingredients in Absinthe and found in ouzo. Opa!).

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The chemical compound for Anethole, found in Fennel and Anise alike!

I actually had a hard time figuring out if Erva Doce was Fennel or Anise. Even Google Translate couldn’t figure it out. I had to look up the Latin. Oy.

(Left is Fennel Seed, Right is Aniseed)

Believe or not, Fennel and Aniseed are keenly similar in both taste and the look of the seed. Fennel is not as strong as Anise, however. You could see why one would get easily confused!

HISTORY

Found primarily in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian regions, the Fennel has been naturalized in many parts of the world. It thrives in drier soil in sub-tropical climates.

Fun Fact: the name “Marathon” comes from the greek word for fennel!

TASTE

sweet, chamomile-like but more grassy than earthy. Extremely similar in both look and taste to Anise.

BENEFITS
rich in manganese, calcium and iron
cleanses the digestive system, blood, kidneys, urinary system
eye health
relieves fluid retention, bloating
antibacterial

oral health

USES

Fennel tea is most popularly made from the seed. That’s the only one I’ve tried, although I’ve seen recipes for fennel tea that use the leaves and the bulb itself.

Drink Fennel seed tea for its healing benefits but also can be used for topical treatments and a cotton ball compress for the eyes and a gargle for gum health and bad breath.

STEEPING TEA

ready-made tea: pour freshly boiled water into your mug of choice and pop in your tea bag. Steep for a couple of minutes depending on your taste. Enjoy!

fennel seeds: crush a teaspoon of Fennel Seeds in a mortar and pestle for each cup of tea, depending on how strong you like your tea. Pop your fennel seeds into a tea infuser or strainer and pour freshly boiled water over the fennel seeds. Steep for a couple of minutes and remove seeds. Enjoy!

Fennel Seed tea may not be the most popular tea at a local grocery store, but if you haven’t tried it yet, I urge to find some! whether you buy ready made teas in-store or online…or even make it yourself with the seeds!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tea feature on one of my favorite simple teas!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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